Fatty Liver (cont.)
Bhupinder Anand, MD
In this Article
What are the other causes of fatty liver?
There are several identifiable causes of fatty liver that are not NAFLD but may cause confusion. The most common are excessive alcohol consumption and hepatitis C. Other causes include Wilson's disease, lipodystrophy (a disease of fat storage), starvation, intravenous nutrition, and abetalipoproteinemia (a disease of fat transport). In addition, several drugs cause fatty liver, including corticosteroids, tamoxifen (Nolvadex), and methotrexate (Rheumatrex, Trexall).
What are the complications of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease?
The complications of nonalcoholic liver disease are essentially those of NASH that has progressed to cirrhosis and include liver failure, gastrointestinal bleeding, and liver cancer.
How is nonalcoholic fatty liver disease treated?
Treatment for nonalcoholic fatty liver disease include lifestyle changes (exercise, weight loss, diet), medications, supplements (antioxidants), omega-3 fatty acids, surgery, and liver transplant.
Weight loss and exercise
Since the serious complications of NAFLD are primarily seen in patients with NASH, treatment of NASH is of great importance. Unfortunately there are no clearly effective treatments for these patients. One of the difficulties in identifying effective treatments is the need for long-term studies since the progression of NASH to cirrhosis and its complications occurs slowly. Several treatments have resulted in a reduction of fat in the liver, but few have shown that the progression of NASH is slowed.
Weight loss and exercise are among the most promising of treatments for NAFLD. It does not take large amounts of weight loss to result in a decrease in liver fat. A less than 10% decrease in weight may be enough. Vigorous exercise results in a reduction of liver fat and also may reduce the inflammation of NASH. The long-term effects of weight loss and exercise on the important development of cirrhosis and its complications are unknown. Nevertheless, at the present time, the best theoretical approach to NAFLD is weight loss and vigorous exercise. Unfortunately, only a minority of patients are able to accomplish these.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 7/9/2014
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Fatty Liver - Symptoms Question: The symptoms of fatty liver can vary greatly from patient to patient. What were your symptoms at the onset of your disease?
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